Four years of PPT

21 01 2013

Yes, it is 4 years since PPT sputtered into life as a collaborative effort to bring more of an international spotlight on the hugely expanded use of the lese majeste and computer crimes laws by the government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva and his not-so-democratic Democrat Party. That regime’s use of the laws was to silence and jail political opponents.

On our second and third anniversaries there was no cause for much celebration. Indeed, on the second anniversary the lese majeste situation was at one of its peaks of repression and harassment and on the third, there was great controversy regarding the law as royalists struggled to maintain it as a foundation for the royalist state. This year we are able to say that having a popularly-elected government has made a difference. The huge spike in charges that began following the 2006 military-palace coup has been reduced under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, elected in July 2011. Many political prisoners are in a special prison where conditions are improved for them.

That said, the Yingluck government has not dared touch these draconian laws, the political trials of lese majeste victims continue, and the intimidation of those who speak out against a wealthy and politicized monarchy continues through the use of these draconian laws.

When we began Political Prisoners in Thailand on 21 January 2009, we hoped it would be a temporary endeavor. Instead, four years later, we are still at it. We get tired, frustrated and angry at the nonsensical actions of the judiciary, its hopelessly royalist bent and the failures and timidity of the Yingluck government, but we hope that we can keep going until every political prisoner is out of jail. With Darunee Charnchoensilpakul serving a massive 15 years, we could be at it for a long time to come.112

In recent years, not only did the number of cases grow exponentially between 2006 and 2011, with especially harsh sentences handed down but we have recently seen the definition of what constitutes a crime under lese majeste extended to include implied lese majeste. In a couple of days, one of the most high-profile cases comes to court for sentencing. Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, jailed since 30 April 2011, refused bail a dozen times, and dragged around the country in chains and cages, will be sentenced. We hope for the best for Somyos, but we are pessimistic.

Over the past four years PPT has had almost 1.2 million page views. That doesn’t make us big league in the blogging world, but the level of interest in lese majeste internationally has certainly increased and there is far more attention to the issue than there was four years ago. In addition, the international reporting of issues related to lese majeste and the monarchy is not as trite as it was back when we began. We hope that we have contributed something to this.

We want to thank our readers for sticking with us through all the attempts by the Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Yingluck Shinawatra censors to block PPT. We trust that we remain useful and relevant and we appreciate the emails we receive from readers.

The lese majeste and computer crimes laws must be repealed.


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